Catching Up With Spend Matters PRO — Our First Week of Premium Content

The past week has been an adventure for Spend Matters, as we dove head first into our premium content and subscription offering, Spend Matters PRO, albeit with a soft beta launch. We're lucky to have taken this conservative approach as we have had a few back-end hitches that we've ironed out (apologies to anyone who has experienced these first hand while registering or paying -- drinks on us at our next event to make up for it). Our current plan is to exit beta on June 1st. In the mean time, here are titles and abstracts of what we've published since launching in the Premium Content section of PRO to date:

Spend Matters Vendor Analysis: GEP (Formerly Global eProcure) -- Part 1

GEP is a procurement solutions and services company with a technology, consulting and outsourcing offering. Few providers in the space offer such a broad suite of internally developed software (covering source-to-pay) with procurement BPO and consulting services – Ariba, Oracle, SAP as well as recent US entrants b-pack and Ivalua would be other providers with similar footprint. This GEP Snapshot is focused entirely on their software capability in the spend analysis and sourcing areas [...]

How Might CPOs Perceive the SAP and Ariba deal?

As a procurement practitioner by background, including three CPO roles in large organizations, I want to take a look from a slightly different angle [from the rest of Spend Matters coverage of SAP and Ariba]. Let's look at the deal from the point of view of the people who really matter -- the senior procurement leaders who form the most important customer group for the supply chain/procurement element of SAP's business, and pretty much all of Ariba's products. We'll call this stakeholder group the "CPO" (Chief Procurement Officer) community for simplicity, although in larger organizations, it is often a second-level procurement executive, reporting to the CPO, who will take responsibility for the key technology decisions, including product and supplier selection [...]

SAP and Ariba Procurement Customers: Hints at a Directional Solution Focus and Recommendations to Take Advantage of Acquisition and Post-Merger Uncertainty

Earlier this week, Ariba sent a note to customers ... In this letter, we pick up on a few key phrases and lines, including: "Our open network model will continue to empower businesses of all sizes to connect and collaborate with new and existing trading partners – regardless of their application infrastructure provider or delivery model" and "In joining forces with SAP, we can increase the value of the Ariba Network, accelerate our application innovation, and expand benefits that we deliver to you and your trading partners." ... We recommend current SAP and Ariba procurement customers and prospects consider the following approaches in the coming months before and after deal close [...]

Ariba and SAP...Exploring the Network Elephant in the Cloudy Room

Now that we've dispensed with much of the cursory coverage of the SAP and Ariba acquisition announcement (you can read our main coverage thus far here, here, here, here and here), we thought it time to take out the elephant gun and take aim right at the pachyderm (that's "very large animal with tough skin") If you're curious about what the giant metaphorical creature is that's not sure whether it is in "truth" or "dare" mode with us, you shouldn't be: it's Ariba's supplier-funded, network-based business model ... SAP and Ariba will need to de-commoditize supplier network connectivity to preserve pricing power to drive, maintain and grow the high margin network/cloud connectivity business. The combination of an expanded network value proposition focused on [...]

SAP and Ariba: Customer and Prospect Implications -- Sourcing, Spend Analysis, Supplier Management and Contract Management

This brief provides a comparative high-level functional look at the strengths and weaknesses of Ariba and SAP in the sourcing, spend analysis, supplier management and contract management areas -- and how they stack up to the competition. We offer initial recommendations to Ariba and SAP customers, prospects and partners about how they should look at the acquisition in each of the functional areas as well as when alternatives should be considered (including which provider to look at). In our 1,800+ word analysis, we include the following observations:

Sourcing -- Ariba and SAP customers and prospects should continue to evaluate sourcing tools independently. Given the limited integration touch-points in the sourcing area between spend analysis and contract management, organizations should not be worried about the integration of various best-of-breed tools even if they plan to standardize on an SAP/Ariba suite and network vision at some point in time. The major difference in sourcing platform decisions between Ariba and SAP relative to best-of-breed vendors will nearly always come down to the importance of prioritizing (or not) the following enabling solution elements that SAP and Ariba have not yet fully developed... (continued for subscribers)

Spend Analysis -- Ariba and SAP customers currently using spend analysis tools from their respective providers should not rush out to evaluate other solutions unless there is a compelling reason. On a foundational level, both SAP and Ariba spend analysis capabilities (and other spend visibility tools) enable the ability to collect and analyze data across multiple operating units, systems, instances, and versions -- beyond just ERP. They also incorporated data cleansing and analysis, common commodity classification and structure and item level visibility (especially in the case of direct materials). While the general availability of SAP HANA-based applications is proceeding at a conservative pace, Spend Matters believes that an in-memory approach to combining different datasets, reclassifying data on the fly, moving beyond the notion of periodic (quarterly, monthly, etc.) refreshes to more real-time based data analysis is the path that the sector will take. For this reason, our bias is to recommend... (continued for subscribers)

Supplier Management -- Ariba and SAP have solutions capable of addressing supplier management needs -- especially in areas of onboarding. SAP's tool in its latest on-demand iteration (Wave 9) is quite good – in fact, what is holding it back is primarily lack of imagination among client and implementation teams, not any solution shortcomings. SAP's development path has provided a lot of excitement for some time now, bringing in the latest functionalities such as mobility apps, social media collaboration and more. Ariba on the other hand has focused its efforts on developing its crown jewel, the supplier trading network. We recommend... (continued for subscribers)

Contract Management -- Ariba and SAP individually have solid, but not best-of-breed capability in contract management. Contract management tools enhance the efficiency of the overall procurement process by increasing the speed and quality with which the contract process is completed while improving access to contract information and driving more effective and timely purchasing decisions through re-use of information to create contract terms and notifications of when to take critical actions. Ariba and SAP provide varying levels of authoring/drafting capability, clause scoring/libraries, analytics, negotiation, approvals, repository, administration, compliance monitoring, compliance systems integration, etc. Of the two providers, Ariba is further along in delivering flexible authoring environment that enables technical and organizational integration and collaboration. Advanced use cases where Ariba and SAP are behind the competition (e.g., Upside) include... (continued for subscribers)

What Keeps CPOs Awake at Night: How CPOs are Measured

Much of the content on Spend Matters PRO will be technology related, aimed at helping both procurement practitioners and solution providers understand technology solutions, markets and options. But in this inaugural series (of many regular series to come), we have a somewhat different aim. This [post] is the first in our series of articles about the role, aims, objectives and priorities of CPOs and other senior procurement professionals). One of the paradoxes of procurement is that it is clearly so important to the success of most organizations, yet it is so hard to measure exactly what contribution it is making. [...]

The Meaning of Big Data for Procurement and Supply Chain: A Fundamental Information Shift

Spend Matters PRO readers are likely to be at least familiar on a cursory level with the term "Big Data." Big Data has come to mean different things to different people (and groups) within companies. For IT organizations, Big Data often represents the confluence of different sources of internal systems information needed to make better and more rapid business decisions. But most important, for IT, Big Data, at least as they see it, is a technology problem that IT deserves the first crack at getting their arms around – and owning. For line of business users in procurement, HR, sales and other areas, the concept of Big Data is a bit more varied – and in certain cases, nebulous. [...]

As of today, we are now offering providers the chance to gain immediate, same-day access to our Premium Content and Research Library through a simplified registration and payment process (practitioners and analysts already have same-day access capability). Check out what you're missing on the Spend Matters PRO site. And look for our post-beta ramp of PRO starting next week if all goes as planned. Our PRO coverage next week will include a closer look at supplier diversity programs, continued SAP and Ariba coverage at a level you won't find elsewhere (e.g., comparisons and recommendations in the e-invoicing, eProcurement and supplier network areas) and our initial coverage of Oracle Fusion Procurement. Stay tuned!

- Jason Busch, Peter Smith, Thomas Kase, Sheena Moore (and the entire Spend Matters PRO team)

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